5 simple exercises to make you a better cyclist

It’s a fact, cycling has seen a huge surge in popularity in the last few years – many are putting it down to the “Olympic effect” and the success of British Cyclists raising the profile of the sport, but whatever the reason, we rejoice!

Because Freedom Leisure is more than just a leisure centre operator, everything we do is focussed on engendering active communities and the more people out and about enjoying exercise – in whatever form – the happier we are.

So, with more people getting into cycling (whether on or off road) it’s worth asking…

Are there other exercises you can do to support your cycling and make you a better cyclist?

And the answer is YES!!!

Freedom Leisure’s Fitness and Well Being Development Manager, and keen cyclist, Richard, says: “There are many really simple yet effective exercises you can do at your local leisure centre or gym which will support your cycling, and possibly even improve your performance and technique while assisting with injury prevention. Here are my top five.”

Richard Merrick

1) Squats

The squat is a lower-body exercise which is great for cyclists as it increases strength throughout the legs. In addition to working the legs it also improves posture and hip mobility.

How to do it:

a) Stand tall with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Pick a spot on the wall in front of you and look at it the entire time while you squat.

b) Bend hips and knees and squat down until the thighs are parallel to the floor – make sure you keep your back straight. Extend your hips and knees to return to the starting position.

2) Split Squat

The split squat is another really great exercise for cyclists because it works one leg at a time, and this is good because when you cycle you also work the legs independently, driving power through the pedals one leg at a time! This move is similar to a lunge, apart from the fact that the back leg is disengaged – to ensure the front leg and core are doing the work.

How to do it:

a) Position yourself into a staggered stance with the rear foot elevated and front foot forward.

b) Similar to a lunge bend your hip and knee until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Keeping your eyes forward and your back straight. Extend your hips and knees to return to the starting position.

3) Power Bridge

A lot of cyclists complain of back pain, possibly as a result of their backs being weak. This exercise works to stretch the hip flexors, which are often extremely stiff in cyclists, but it also strengthens the link between lower back and glutes.

How to do it:

a) Lie on your back and bend your knees – trying to get your heels as close to bottom as possible. Arms should be flat on ground to your side with your palms facing the floor.

b) Squeeze your glutes tight and raise your hips off the floor, thrusting hips up while keeping your back in a straight line from knees to shoulders. Hold for a moment then lower back down to the ground.

4) Front Plank

Holding yourself in the plank position takes strength and endurance in your abs, back, and core, so the plank is one of the best exercises for core conditioning – with the added benefit of also working glutes and hamstrings, which are also crucial muscles for cyclists.

How to do it:

Get into a push up position on the floor. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms. Keep your back flat and hold – increasing the length of time you stay in position as your core strength improves.

Finally, a good supplement to outdoor cycling is indoor cycling. Many road cyclists rely on indoor cycling classes to maintain fitness throughout winter when the cold, dark, wet nights kick in but there are actually more benefits than just this. By adding indoor cycling classes (often known as spinning) to your regime it can benefit you in other ways.

5) Indoor Cycling

“To help get the most out of your indoor cycle sessions and support your love of outdoor cycling, try to follow these simple guidelines, and even one indoor cycling session a week will be of benefit.”

Richard Merrick

1) Save your endurance building rides for outside and use your indoor cycle for power and speed sessions - hill repeats and sprint repeats are excellent ways of bringing quick improvements in cycling fitness.

2) Limit your leg speed to around 100rpm as although this is slower than some spin classes it is probably the fastest your legs will move outside. If you find your legs going faster then use the resistance to slow you down.

3) Try to get your bike position set up the same as your outdoor bike. Many of our indoor bikes at Freedom Leisure have the same clipless pedals as outdoor bikes so feel free to bring along your cycling shoes.

4) Don’t forget to drink. There is no cooling effect of the wind indoors, meaning getting dehydrated is even more of a risk.

Want to improve your cycling?

We operate 75 leisure centres across the UK, the vast majority have gyms and indoor cycling classes, offering a mix of instructor led and virtual classes. Find your nearest centre here and start becoming a better cyclist.

Find a centre